Jack Shit: Just Say Yes

When my daughter Bea was a little girl, she found a seed in a seedless Satsuma, and planted it in a tiny pot on our kitchen windowsill.  She kept the soil moist and, to our delight, a tiny Satsuma tree sprouted.  We nearly lost hope when the little tree was infested with insects, but it hung on.  Through the years, we tried everything we could think of to bring it back to health. We washed it with dish soap to get rid of the bugs, and transplanted it to a bigger pot.  We tried covering the soil with plastic wrap, to keep the bugs away from the leaves.  In desperation, we trimmed it down to almost nothing, but it came back–and so did the bugs.  I half hoped it would die, just to be done with it.

Last summer I set it out on the deck, like a fish thrown back into the water, to sink or swim.  But the little tree liked the fresh air and sunshine, and grew greener and healthier than ever.  I brought it inside before the nights turned cold, and it’s back on the windowsill, perhaps gazing out at the yard and looking forward to warm summer nights.

We live our lives in hope.

Almost everything we do is an act of hope. Big ones and little ones.

Hope is writing this post, even when I couldn’t figure out the new Photobucket last night.  It’s trying a new flavor of yogurt.  It’s getting out of bed each morning.  It’s teaching your child to look both ways when crossing a street.  It’s writing the address of a friend with cancer into your address book—in ink.  Hope is page one of every new book you open.

It’s writing page one of a new manuscript before the last one has sold.  It’s everything from watering a plant to having a baby, from a blind date to getting married.  It’s why Jack planted his magic beans, against all odds and common sense.  Hope was the last most precious thing left to us, when Pandora opened up her box.  It’s more important than love, because as long as we have hope, love might yet grow.

A scientist studying nature vs. nurture put identical twins into separate rooms, one stocked with toys, candy, a real live pony.  The other he put into a room filled with manure.  When he went back to observe, the twin in the room of toys was sitting in the middle of it, crying.  “What’s wrong,” said the scientist.  The child replied, “I just know I’m going to break something and get in trouble.”  The scientist found the other child up to its ears in manure, laughing, leaping about, scooping up handfuls of the stuff and tossing it to one side.  “What are you doing?” asked the scientist.  The child answered, “With all this shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Who says Jack doesn’t know shit?  Bring on the magic beans!

With all the shit life throws at you, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.

All words and images c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope.

Click for more interpretations of The Island Travelers Weekly Image of Life : The Blessings of Hope, and Jake’s Sunday Post: Hope.



  1. scillagrace says:

    I love your photos and your optimism! But the challenge is deciding what to hope…not in delusion, not in rescue. Perhaps in Life being lively, dynamic, engaging, wonder-full, whatever happens. And perhaps in ourselves becoming better at awareness and responding to Life.

    1. Dear Scilla,
      Yes, we do have to adjust our expectations to our circumstances. My mom, who was widowed in the worst way with seven children, used to say, “You have to look for the bright spots. They’re not always easy to find.” I am no Pollyanna–life is always hard, and much harder for some people than for others. But there is goodness there, too, and if you don’t look for it and focus on that, it could drag you down so quickly. Thank you for your insight, Scilla. I love to hear from you.

      1. scillagrace says:

        I would love to hear your Mom’s story some day. Widow to widow, it’s hard to imagine a “good” way to achieve that status, although there are possible scenarios that might work. Change can be the surest bright spot available. Whatever you’re going through, it’s bound to change.

  2. theothers1 says:

    Reblogged this on ChantelC and commented:
    This… This was so incredibly timely it deserved a reblog. I needed this after the way things have been lately. “And with all the shit life throws at you, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.” I’ll keep going until I find the pony underneath. I hope you’ll keep going with me. 🙂

    1. Hi Chantel,
      Thanks for the re-blog. I am so glad that you found this helpful, and I’m so glad you’re hanging in there. Every time you post, it’s an act of hope and faith, an investment in your writing.

  3. theothers1 says:

    Great post, Naomi!

  4. Mary Brugh says:

    Thanks for another wonderfully moving, and hopeful post.

    1. HI Mary,
      Thanks so much for the visit. It is always good to hear from you.

  5. mikereverb says:

    Absolutely beautiful post. Seriously, this was just what I needed to hear (see?) as I began to drudge through a difficult chapter of my novel.

    I’m gonna get myself a pile of shit, hop in Scrooge McDuck style, and find me a unicorn!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing the hope, Naomi. 🙂

    1. Oh, Mike, you really made me smile. Writers have to be crazy to invest so much time and creative energy into projects that may or may not fly. Is there ever a more hopeful lot, and all in the same boat, paddling upstream. But what a ride! And I like the company. Thanks for so much writing.

  6. Beverly says:

    So happy when I do take a minute to read your posts. They just feel goood.

    1. Hi Beverly, it’s so good to hear form you! Thanks for the visit, and taking the time to comment. Best wishes!

  7. Jueseppi B. says:


  8. Naomi says:

    Loved this post – especially the final line. 🙂

    1. Hi Naomi,
      Thanks for your visit, and for your generous words!

  9. gkm2011 says:

    What a beautiful post. Thank you.

  10. Uplifting!!! I had a citrus from seeds (grapefruit and orange) my great-nieces and nephews planted. It also grew much healthier outdoors in summer, and had thorns, but never got flowers. If yours does, you can use the trick my mom used on a kumquat that grew for her: use a small paint brush to move pollen from blossom to blossom.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thanks for the advice–sounds like a good trick. So good to hear from you, Mary! I hope you are well.

  11. Thank you, Naomi, for sharing this message of hope. Your photography is amazing…your writing entertaining and genuine. Beautiful post.:)

    1. Dear Vivian,
      You are so generous! Thank you for your very kind comment.

  12. My dad used to say that I could dive into a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose. He would laugh and shake his head, but he never got mad about it. Maybe he saw the pony.

    1. Hi Tim,

      That is a GREAT story! Thank you so much for sharing it (and for making me laugh).

  13. Love this!!! hope your world is well Naomi

    1. Thanks, Len. All is well in Seattle! I am sending good wishes in your direction too.

  14. This is most definitely one of your best posts ever – I loved it too, Naomi

    1. Thank you! I so appreciate your kind words!

  15. Tina Schell says:

    What a great post Naomi! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Tina,

      I really appreciate your stopping by, and taking the time to comment. I have been enjoying my visits to your blog!

  16. 4amWriter says:

    I remember once I stuck a stick into the potting soil of a plant so I could use it to help keep the plant upright. The stick sprouted leaves. It had been just an old twig cast away from some tree, looked like nothing special at all. But when it sprouted leaves I thought about the kinds of things you mention here, how there’s life even when something looks dead and worthless.

    1. That is an amazing story! There are legends about Joseph and other historical and religious figures placing a stick or a staff into the ground, and a tree sprouting up from it. You are in good company! thanks for sharing.

  17. Aletha Tucker says:

    I love for my grandkids to help in the gardens. They get dirty and love it, but they also learn. I love Nature.

    1. I really love to be out in the natural world, too. You are so fortunate to have grandkids who want to share that with you! I appreciate your visit.

  18. Mona says:

    This was a delight to read. Thank you for visiting my blog — it’s nice to meet you & I look forward to reading more,

    1. Hi Mona,
      It’s nice to meet you too! thank you so much for the kind words. I am sure I will see more of you when I visit your blog.

  19. tita buds says:

    Such a pleasure to read this, Naomi. Thank you. 🙂

  20. viveka says:

    A wonderful blend of words, thoughts and photos … *smile

    1. I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your very kind words.

  21. jakesprinter says:

    Excellent post once again Naomi thanks for sharing my friend 🙂

    1. Hi Jake,
      Thanks for the challenge–I loved your computer graphics, and I love the challenges you set for us.

  22. Well, my goodness if this one didn’t ring true with me. Love the line, “writing the name of someone with cancer in your address book–in ink.” I’ve been working on hope lately. And story about the kid and the pony is one of my mom’s favorites–I”ll forward post to her! Thanks Naomi.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Of course, I was thinking of you and Gabrielle and your journey, and also a couple of friends of mine, when I wrote this. Best wishes to you and your family. You set a great example for us all.

  23. Beautiful post!!! Lovely shots!!! Last picture is awesome!!!

    1. Thank you! It was a fun one to put together. That last photo is a field not too far outside of Ravenna in Italy. I sure appreciate your stopping by!

  24. nutsfortreasure says:


    Yes how very TRUE

    Thanks for making me smile


    1. Hi Eunice,
      Thank you for your very kind words! I appreciate your encouragement.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:


  25. laura@eljaygee says:

    just the story of the satsuma seed that fell on fertile ground was heartwarming. Love the way you join all the images together in writing – or is the other way around?!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. When I start a post, I might have an idea of what I want to say, but I’m not really sure how it will go, or which photos I will use. I pick more than I will use, write a bit, and then I might have to go back into my photo library to find something more suitable to the direction I’ve taken it. It always seems to work out somehow.

      1. Laura Bloomsbury says:

        its a most creative way or working and especially interesting for your readers. The true sign of a tale – leading here and there

      2. I’m glad it works. I just have to trust that the story will find its way out eventually! This story began with the satsuma seed, and I had no idea that it was going to end up with magic beans or Jack anything, but the instant I it came to me, I knew it was right, even if I had to use the ‘s’ word.

  26. i mayfly says:

    LOL. I looked twice at the “postmark” when I saw the title on your post. Naomi, I think you know how much I appreciate shit. Glad to see you singing its praises as well. And, Hope is a wonderful thing. If I could I’d attach a picture of the jasmine in bloom outside by bedroom window. A riot of yellow bouffanting over an arbor and trailing across the metal roof of adjacent outbuildings. Hard to be glum when I look or smell that lovely.
    Very nice post. It most definitely flies. 😉

    1. Oh, Nikki, you sure got me on this one! I’d love to see your jasmine–it sounds lovely. Thanks so much for the kind words. And I’m happy to know the post flies (as long as it doesn’t hit the fan!)

  27. Well said and as always great photos 🙂

  28. Carol says:

    This post is so very very – yes!

    1. Thank you so much! I have been thinking about you a lot lately, and sending hopeful thoughts your way. Warm wishes to you and yours, dear Carol.

  29. Spider42 says:

    Fantastic post!
    “Hope is page one of every new book you open.” was maybe my favourite line of the whole thing.

    1. I love to know what clicks for readers, so thank you for taking the time to read and then to share your thoughts. I appreciate your visit.

      1. Spider42 says:


  30. That is why I so love reading your posts — they fill me with such optimism and always make me smile. You have a wonderful way with words. A true storyteller. I’m very much hoping to buy your novel immediately it’s published 🙂

    1. Oh, Sarah, you always make me smile, and tonight you made me blush! I can toss words around and make them fall pretty well in the right place, but I am completely in awe of what you do with your poetry and your music. Your superpower is to be able to transform a handful of words into a whole new world, spare and elegant at once. But thank you so much for your generosity. I’ll buy your book and you can buy mine.

      1. Naomi, we are a mutual admiration society. Thank you for making me blush, too 🙂

  31. My Tropical Home says:

    Ah, I missed your blog Naomi! Hope, hope, hope…the perfect ending to my internet time! Loved the seed story, loved the shit story and loved the line about hope. You are wonderful!

    Lotsa love (no shit) and warm hope from over here,
    Mary aka “Grace” 😉

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it–you sure made my day. (And I think you’re wonderful too!)
      Lotsa love!

  32. You’ve written so many excellent posts. This one makes it to the top of my favorites!

    1. Dear Cathryn,
      Coming from such a wonderful writer, storyteller, and blogger extraordinaire, that means a lot. Thank you so much for your encouragement!

  33. cobbledtoolbox says:

    Wow, I love sunflowers.

    1. Me too! It was all I could do to keep from running up and down the rows. I have half a mind to plant a big circle of sunflowers in my garden this year, and make a giant living sunflower house.

      1. cobbledtoolbox says:

        How awesome that would be.

      2. Mmmmm. Maybe I’ll do it, and post the photo–like a fantasy real estate shot of my dream house. Isn’t it nice to be able to make at least one dream come true–hah! with a handful of magic sunflower seeds!

  34. Amy says:

    So well said, Naomi! Beautiful!

  35. Jamie Dedes says:

    Naomi, this post is a jewel, a treasure, beautifully thought out and expressed, inspired and inspiring. Memorable. I love it. This is the sort of thing I love for “Into the Bardo” … you had said you didn’t know what you did that would fit there.

    So, FYI, I haven’t forgotten about that or your writing challenge. I am doing bare-bones blogging at the moment. A much treasured friend is in the process of a painful death and will probably only be with us for another week.Spending most of my time with her right now … but will be back to my normal involvement in blogging eventually …

    1. Dear Jamie,
      I am so sorry to hear about your friend. She is so fortunate to have you. I wasn’t at all worried, and don’t think twice about it. I am sending soft thoughts to you both.

      1. Jamie Dedes says:

        Thank you! She died on Saturday a.m. I just posted my poem on her today. It was hard. We are all more than a bit traumatized, but mending. It’s so good and healing to see your lovely photographs. I happened upon your website too. Nicely done and what wonderful things you do.

        Be well, dear Naomi.

      2. Dear Jamie,

        I am so sorry for your loss. Your poem was such a powerful piece–it gave me shivers. How fortunate she was to have had not only a true friend brave enough to help her through this last terrible trial, but one with such a tender heart and the vision to see beyond all the horrible hospital trappings to the beauty of her last uplifting and liberating act of will. You must be exhausted, physically and emotionally, Jamie. I hope you are taking good care of yourself. Thinking of you tonight, and sending you tender thoughts.

  36. TBM says:

    Life without hope is a depressing thought. Good luck with both manuscripts.

    1. Thank you! I’ll keep you posted.

  37. elisaruland says:

    Naomi, your posts never fail to help me keep life in perspective. I often find that when life stops throwing shit at me, I end up stepping in it anyway!

    1. Dear Elisa,
      Thank you for making me laugh! So good to hear from you.

  38. Madhu says:

    Ah, lovely, lovely post Naomi….particularly that line about inking a terminally ill friends name in your address book. Thank you for the well deserved rap on my whiny knuckles 🙂

  39. Paula says:

    Hello Naomi 🙂 I have enjoyed this post so much. About a year ago I heard a slightly different story about the twins told as a joke :). You have made me laugh again. My best, Paula

    1. Thank you, Paula. And thanks for the follow. I appreciate your taking the time to visit.

  40. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Thanks for making me smile and laugh. Naomi you really invoked hope here. Great writing. 🙂

  41. Hope is such a simple word but it means so much. You remind me not to ever forget that. Naomi, what a tale you spin! Love it.

    1. Dear Lesley,
      Thank you so much for your visit, and your very generous thoughts!

  42. ShimonZ says:

    A very beautiful post, bringing us hope and love, and a smile too. You are a wonderful story teller. And those pictures were a great pleasure to see.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. You are very generous!

  43. Kate says:

    You always make me smile.

    My dear friend Rapunzel grew a lemon tree from a Tesco value lemon. The tree lived with us in halls and when we got a house together (and is the reason why I bought her a lemon shaped tea bag holding thing – I think that’s what I bought).

    Now she’s back in halls again, and because the tree is simply too big for her tiny room her boyfriend bought her a bonsai tree to love while her parents look after the big lemon tree at home.

  44. I love the analogy to seeds planted and hope. Outstanding and thought provoking post, Naomi. The pictures aren’t bad either. (You know they are GREAT).

  45. Hope keeps us going even if there are days there is nothing more to give and giving up seems easier. Thanks for uplifting our spirits today. Beautiful!

    1. Thank you for your visit!

  46. eof737 says:

    Well said… True. What became of the plant?

    1. That first photo is our little Mandarin Satsuma on the kitchen counter.

      1. eof737 says:

        OK, so that’s a recent photo of it? Wonderful.

  47. Genie says:

    My goodness, the photo with the lone sunflower is a poem!

    1. Thank you! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. There, growing out of the desert sand, was a sunflower in full bloom!

  48. sue says:

    I always say that without hope we have nothing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your quote, “Everything we do is an act of hope.” I will keep that one close always. Thank you!

    1. Dear Sue,
      Thank you so much for that wonderful thought.
      SO good to see you today!

  49. Excellent post….I always love reading about hope and all its different forms….and seriously, I have to work that line in a conversation tomorrow…..hmmm…. “with all this shit, there has to be a pony in there somewhere!”

    1. Thank you! That’s a keeper–one of those extremely useful little punchlines that I think to myself, or even say aloud in the right company, and the right situation.

  50. sue says:

    I just revisited this today- and the image that came to me after reading about the hopeful planting of a seed by your child was when Denise made an elaborate leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day one year and was so confident that THIS would be the year that she was successful in trapping her very own pot of gold -finally- after many unsuccessful years- outfitted it with food, a comfy bed and tiny handmade clothes. She said, “He’s going to be in there all night so I want him to be comfortable!” If that isn’t hope, I don’t know what is! 🙂 I’m going to try to remember that! It is important to never lose hope.

    1. Dear Sue,
      That is such a sweet story! And it doesn’t hurt to help hope along with a little water and sunshine whenever possible. As for leprechauns, sometimes just knowing they are there is enough.

  51. frizztext says:

    thank you, Naomi, for pulling the focus on HOPE. In my top ten of favorite books is:
    Ernst Bloch: “The principle of hope”

    my book review:

    1. Thank you! I will look this up.

  52. I love this post. It’s so hopeful and magnificent! Thanks Naomi.

  53. restlessjo says:

    You can’t help but have a happy weekend, Naomi 🙂 🙂

    1. Dear Jo,
      Thank you for the visit and the good wishes! I wish you a lovely weekend too!

  54. tchistorygal says:

    Great title, great post! 🙂

  55. raptekar says:

    Love this one. I do know Jack s**t. . . . I just planted a bunch of Half Moon Bay pumpkin seeds. We shall see if the current El Nino rains help the seeds germinate and in the late summer or early fall, jumbo pumpkins grow. Ooooooo.

    1. Good luck with your pumpkins, cousin! Thanks for the visit, and the kind word.

  56. Meg says:

    I hooted when I read the title, Naomi. Never understood the American usage of the term until now. Better go looking for that pony! Oh … and you forgot to mention the subsequent 4 ft Yellow Hibiscus growing in the bedroom – more optimism made visible. Love ya. M

    1. Giddyup, girl! Good luck with that pony! You really made me smile, Meg. I have my own private prompter! You are one of the few followers of this blog who has actually slept with that little satsuma, and know its roommate by name (Hibiscus!). They’re both still going strong! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts–had to laugh out loud. I love you, too, Meg!

  57. Debbie says:

    Great post. Loved this line “with all this shit, there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere!” I’ll keep looking for my pony then. 🙂

    1. Hi Chris. Thanks for the link!

  58. galeweithers says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this post! Lots of optimism indeed and great take on the challenge. Here’s my fun take but do not ever stop being optimistic! https://galeweithers.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/optimism-is-the-faith-that-leads-to-achievement/

    1. Thank yo so much for the visit, and for sharing your generous response. I followed the link back to your blog, and really enjoyed your post–especially that very first photo! I have my fingers crossed for you!

  59. Reblogged this on Writing Between the Lines and commented:

    Now, more than ever…

  60. Reb says:

    Fantastic! Thanks, Naomi


    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing a kind word!

  61. Carol says:

    You are so right, if we didn’t have hope there would be no reason to go on. Especially these days, when I feel like the shit just keeps gettinhg deeper. Must be a really big horse, never mind a pony.

    1. Ha! You can still laugh about it! I think the tide is turning, Carol.

  62. Annie Chace says:

    I absolutely love this post! Without hope, we have nothing.

    1. Dear Annie,
      Thank you so much! A little hope to tide us over in these difficult times will never go amiss. Fingers crossed!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Annie!

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